TM: Condensed Version
In September of 1995, during my morning routine I noticed that my left hand felt a little funny, like I had slept on it wrong. Within a few hours, that whole arm was numb and not functioning correctly, my legs and lower torso were numb, I couldn’t walk on my own, and I was having trouble using the restroom. By the next day my energy level was almost nil, and I broke out into a sweat after a very short while of any exertion and had to crawl back into bed. I was in the hospital for 8 days while all kinds of tests and procedures were done and long lists of possible causes were considered. The final diagnosis was transverse myelitis.
Transverse Myelitis? What? What is that? Who has ever heard of it?
It is either a virus or an auto-immune response to some stimulus which causes demyelination , or damage to the myelin sheath around nerves in the spine. What symptoms one has depends on where along the spine the damage occurred: the higher the attack, the worse the symptoms.
Over the next three months I progressed from a walker to a cane to walking alone, though wobbly. My balance has been greatly affected. For a long time I had much more trouble with balance standing still than walking. Sometimes I just feel generally unsteady. My knees and ankles sometimes “go out.” The fatigue lessened greatly but is still a factor. The numbness has subsided a good deal, but is still there and flares up from time to time. I have pain right between my shoulder blades that flares up from time to time, like a muscle cramp with a vengeance. The pain in my arm also flares up from time to time. My right leg does not feel cold or pain. I still have assorted bathroom problems –that has probably been the most frustrating for me. I have odd little muscle twinges and twitches or tremblings. That used to just about drive me crazy: the way my neurologist put it was that my nervous system was affected, making it more responsive to stimuli. So whereas beforehand, I had a little twitch in my eyelid sometimes, now something like a sneeze can set off a shower of twitches all around my eye. Stress, illness, not getting enough rest can all trigger a flare-up, but sometimes symptoms flare up greatly for no apparent reason at all.
For more detailed information, see Onset.
The most important aspect of all of this is not what happened physically, but how God worked in and through it to draw me closer to Himself. Some of that is at the end of the “Onset” post; the rest of it divided up into shorter posts: Fear, God’s Help, and Unanswered prayers and reasons for suffering.